Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Love As Well As Truth

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." -1 Corinthians 13:1

We are always focusing on teaching the truth. And we focus so much on being accurate, and showing others what is right. But sometimes it seems like we forget the other half. It can be easy to forget that we are not just robots, reciting scripture at people and hoping they get it. We are to teach others with love and respect (Ephesians 4:15).

Think back to Paul on Mars Hill, in Acts 17. Imagine if Paul got up there and announced to everyone, "You are incredibly wrong, and are all going to hell. Now let me tell you why I'm right." Would the people there be very accepting of what he was saying, had he done that? But instead, he made a connection so that he could teach in a way that they would understand, and not get upset about it. When teaching others the truth, we need to lead them into it. Not force it down their throats.

But what does that mean, to teach with love? Well, when talking about love, we often go to 1 Corinthians 13 and go down the list. Love is patient, kind, doesn't envy or boast, it's not arrogant or rude. It doesn't insist on its own way. It's not irritable or resentful, or rejoice in wrongdoing. It rejoices in truth. It bears all, believes all, hopes all, and endures all. Now, I will say that when it says "Love does not insist on its own way" in verse 5, this does not mean that we shouldn't insist that the Bible is true. We don't need to insist on our way, but we most certainly need to insist on God's way.

Whenever speaking to someone about God's Word, it's important to ask, "Am I coming across as patient? Kind? Am I coming across as one who is arrogant?" If the answer is yes to any of these things, then maybe it's time to rethink what's about to be said.

Why do you teach the Word? What is your motivation? Because if it is purely to please God, then it may be time to change your way of thinking. Yes, we do it to please God. But that's not why we're supposed to do it. God doesn't just make commandments so that we'll have something to do. He doesn't tell us to go to worship Him every first day of the week so that we can have an excuse to get out of stuff. He doesn't tell us not to murder just because he wants to make your life that much more difficult.

The reason that we are told to preach the Word to everyone, everywhere (Matthew 28:18-20) is because of John 3:2-5. Jesus was approached by Nicodemus, who asked Christ how someone could be born again. And in verse 3, we see Jesus's response: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." That is why we should spread the gospel. If we truly love others, then we will not want them to miss out on heaven. If we truly love others, then we will do the best we can to bring them to Christ, and not in a hateful manner. Not in a way that will lead others astray.

If we don't teach the truth in love, then we may as well not be teaching the truth at all. According to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, no mater what we do, if we do not do it out of pure love, then what is the point? It can be easy to become apathetic towards these things, and to just do them out of habit. But if you have fallen into this habit, I would like to encourage you to get out of it. Start showing love towards others. Study more. Serve others. And love more. You would be surprised at what a difference it makes.